Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the location for the Steelers first home game of the pre-season and, their first win of the pre-season, against the visiting Green Bay Packers.
The game was a great one to watch and I saw many positives from the Steelers, some of which I mentioned in my pre-game predictions. Of course, the game did bring some terrible news to both the Steelers and Packers as they both lost an elite player on offence.
The Packers lost star receiver Jordy Nelson and the Steelers lost all-pro center Maurkice Pouncey. Injuries aside, let's discuss some of the good and bad things the Steelers did during the game.
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Pressure from the linebackers and the defensive line was something I really wanted to see from the Steelers, specifically, pressure on Aaron Rodgers. My wish was granted as the Steelers put together six sacks from six different players. The James Harrison sack on Aaron Rodgers in the endzone for a safety had me jumping out of my chair. Just before the play I said to myself "wouldn't it be awesome if they got a safety here" and that's exactly what they did!
It was also great to finally see some pressure coming from youngsters Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones. They need to keep on developing their skills and keep working for more sacks, six sacks was great, but I want more and I'm sure Mike Tomlin does also.
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The Quarterback play from Ben Roethlisberger was as good as expected. I would have liked to see the first team offence score more points though, considering the fact they played until the second quarter. Besides that though, there really isn't anything to criticise about Ben's play, he went 11 out of 14 for 100-yards and a touchdown.
Bruce Gradkowski only played for a limited amount of time before he left the game with an injury. He looked exactly the same as when he played in last year's pre-season, I just wish he'd played longer. Gradkowski went three out of five for 25-yards.
Now, Landry Jones had himself a day. I really liked how Landry played, despite his first pass of the game being an interception, prompting me to tweet out "Oh Landry...", he really did progress as the game went on.
His fourth quarter performance was what stood out for me, he threw two touchdowns, the last being a game winner, and seemed to play with a kind of 'won't be denied' attitude, which I loved. He extended the play Roethlisberger style on one third down and didn't let his mistakes shake his confidence like he had done in previous games.
Overall a great game for Landry, he went 10 out of 19 for 172-yards, two touchdowns and an interception. I really hope this performance spills over into next week's game versus the Bills and lets him play in a similar fashion.
The defence played well in my opinion, they really did tighten up in pass coverage, which was something I wanted to see, they got a great amount of pressure as discussed above, and they held the packers to just three points in the second half of the game. Another positive step forward for this young defence is not without some negatives.
Turnovers still elude them, the Steelers really need to emphasise how important getting turnovers are, this defence does not have the personnel to go out and shut people down game after game. The way they will win games is by sacking the quarterback, which we saw, and getting turnovers. Giving the ball back to the high powered Steelers offence an extra once or twice a game could be the deciding factor between a win or a loss.
The young receiver/quarterback had a great game in the second half. He led the team in receiving with four receptions for 61-yards and a touchdown. Murphy and Landry seemed to be on the right page a lot of the time and Landry really worked to get Murphy the ball more often.
If Murphy continues to play like that for the remaining two pre-season games, hey, I won't have an issue with him being on the final 53-man roster.
The Steelers had three injuries strike them during the game, the biggest obviously being Center Maurkice Pouncey, but they also lost defensive end Stephon Tuitt for the game and Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
Pouncey is the biggest blow to the Steelers by far, the all-pro centre came back last season after missing 15 games the year before and instantly meshed well with new offensive line coach Mike Munchak. The offensive line protected Ben Roethlisberger extremely well, leading to the least amount of sacks Ben has taken in his whole career.
This feat would not have been accomplished without Pouncey, he is the heart and soul of that line and the Steelers are really going to struggle without him for what looks like will be a 10-week injury.
Tuitt's injury was downplayed by Coach Tomlin after the game, so it looks like that is nothing to worry about, he will be back by next week.
Gradkowski's injury could sideline him, again, for a bit longer. This could result in Landry Jones getting an opportunity to to finally take that backup role behind Ben Roethlisberger. I hope Landry looks at it that way.
The game was a great one to watch, of course, the injury to Maurkice Pounce did dampen the spirits of the Steelers despite the win. The Steelers have a capable backup in Cody Wallace who will now assume the starting centre role on offence. Wallace said he is ready to step in and step up his play, although I doubt it will be anywhere near as good as Pouncey.
The Steelers play the Buffalo Bill's on Saturday for their fourth pre-season game, it will be a performance where the starters will be getting an even longer extended period of play, most likely they will play an entire half. Hopefully, the Steelers can tie together two straight pre-season wins on their path to building momentum for the regular season.
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